07TBILISI1479, JUDICIAL REFORM: MOVING FORWARD

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07TBILISI1479.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1479 2007-06-19 13:56 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9552
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1479/01 1701356
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 191356Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6727
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001479 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: JUDICIAL REFORM:  MOVING FORWARD 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1242 
 
     B. TBILISI 281 
     C. TBILISI 284 
     D. TBILISI 1299 
     E. TBILISI 767 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  Georgian officials admit privately that 
judicial reform was not high on the list of reform projects 
immediately following the Rose Revolution.  It was deemed too 
hard to accomplish quickly, and as a result, was slow to get 
started.  International pressure, however, has moved this 
crucial area to the forefront.  On June 8, Deputy Chairman of 
the Parliamentary Legal Committee (and Saakashvili insider) 
Giga Bokeria confirmed to Poloff that a draft law banning ex 
parte communications was introduced in Parliament the week of 
June 4.  He expects it to pass this year as part of a 
judicial reform package that will also repeal Soviet-era laws 
which provided criminal and administrative sanctions against 
judges for making an "incorrect decision."  In addition, both 
Bokeria and Chief of the Tbilisi Appeals Court Eka 
Tkeshelashvili provided additional details on the Irakli 
Batiashvili case (reftel A).  He was recently convicted for 
providing assistance to rebel warlord Emzar Kvitsiani.  They 
claimed that his case has been carried out in accordance to 
Georgian law.  End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
BAN ON EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS INTRODUCED IN PARLIAMENT 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
2. (C)  Georgian officials admit privately that judicial 
reform was not high on the list of reform projects 
immediately following the Rose Revolution in 2003.  Although 
there was some internal debate, those supporting immediate 
reform of the judiciary lost to those supporting prioritizing 
reform of the patrol police, educational system, and fighting 
corruption.  As a result, this important reform was slow to 
get started.  Still, starting last year, the Government began 
a comprehensive effort to reform the judiciary to increase 
its independence (reftels B and C).  The biggest change was 
the constitutional amendment passed at the end of 2006 that 
removed the President from the High Council of Justice, the 
judicial disciplinary body.  Other reforms included: 
prosecuting corrupt judges, improving the court system's 
efficiency, and introducing jury trial legislation. 
 
3. (C) Still, progress on some key issues lagged, including 
an ex parte communications ban (reftel D).  After pressure 
from the Embassy, Department and international officials, 
however, the Georgians now understand the importance of 
undertaking concrete judicial reforms expeditiously to 
increase the independence of the judiciary.  On June 8, 
Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee Giga 
Bokeria said that the draft law barring ex parte 
communications was introduced in Parliament the week of June 
4.  It will include sanctions on judges, lawyers and third 
parties who violate the law.  He expects it to pass this year 
as part of a judicial reform package that will also repeal 
Soviet-era laws that punished judges, both criminally and 
administratively, for making an "incorrect ruling."  Removing 
the threat of sanctions against judges for their decisions 
should, we believe, increase judicial independence. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
MAGISTRATE SYSTEM, HIGH SCHOOL OF JUSTICE ON TRACK 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
4. (C) In a separate meeting on June 5, Eka Tkeshelashvili, 
Chief of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals, confirmed to Poloff 
that the magistrate system was on track to improve court 
efficiency and administration of justice.  She clarified, 
however, while magistrates could determine whether an 
individual should e held in pre-trial detention or released 
on bail, they still lack authority to dispose of criminal 
matters.  Thus, while the number of people detained in 
pre-trial detention pending release may be diminished, the 
time necessary to resolve the criminal matter may not be 
reduced.  Similarly, she confirmed that the High School of 
Justice had completed its curriculum for training new judges 
(reftel E).  It is now under review with the High Council of 
Justice, of which she is a member.  She said the curriculum 
was well done and believed it would be ready by October, when 
the High School would accept its first group of judges. 
 
------------------------------- 
MORE DETAIL ON BATIASHVILI CASE 
------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Tkeshelashvili also responded to questions about the 
 
TBILISI 00001479  002 OF 002 
 
 
trial of Irakli Batiashvili, who was recently convicted for 
providing assistance to rebel warlord Emzar Kvitsiani (reftel 
A).  When asked why the judge and the prosecutor - according 
to press reporting - had not listened to the primary evidence 
during the trial, she said that under current Georgian law, 
neith
er the judge nor the lawyer are required to listen to 
primary evidence.  She noted, however, that she was not 
familiar with the details of the case.  Tkeshelashvili said 
the new Criminal Procedure Code and other reforms will 
require a more rigid evidential review.  (Note:  When asked 
about this on June 8, Bokeria claimed that the tapes were 
played in court and heard by both the judge and the lawyers. 
He offered to check and confirmed this again the next day 
after consulting with the Ministry of Justice.  End note.) 
 
6. (C) When asked why the judge did not explain of the 
verdict, Tkeshelashvili said that Georgian law does not 
require a judge to explain the ruling when entering a 
judgment.  Instead, judges have fourteen days to draft a 
publicly available explanation.  Judges routinely do not 
provide explanations when entering a judgment for the Court 
of First Instance in the interests of time and according to 
this rule.  Tkeshelashvili noted that the Court of Appeals is 
building a website to disseminate the explanations more 
widely.  Ultimately, a similar website will be created for 
the Court of First Instance. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7. (C) Comment.  There is no doubt still a long way to go 
before Georgia has an independent judiciary, but these steps 
are encouraging indicators that the Georgians have both 
received our message and are starting to move in the right 
direction.  Indeed, we heard that President Saakashvili 
canceled a planned trip to the U.S. by Bokeria so that 
Bokeria could get the draft law on ex parte communication 
introduced into Parliament.  On the Batiashvili case, 
although this information from Government and Parliament 
sources indicates that the case was tried in accordance to 
Georgian law, it is impossible for us to determine, as the 
opposition claim, that the evidence against him did not merit 
the ruling.  We will continue to follow the case.  Upon our 
request, Deputy Prosecutor General Nona Tsotsoria said she 
would ensure we received a copy of the explanation of 
verdict.  End comment. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: